11 May 2014

Shortest Short Stories

I've been a bit busy lately writing my bachelor thesis. It is going horirble, and the deadline is approaching at a terribly fast pace.
Quite well-timed, I found this little article [in Russian] on the shortest literary masterpieces, and wanted to share it here. These stories amuse me and make a bit sad at the same time: I wish I could be as concise in expressing my thoughts and ideas in my own writing. So far I feel like a parody on Tolstoy. Ah! damn thesis!


1) Once Hemingway bet ten dollars that he could write a moving story of only six words. He wrote it on a napkin: "For sale: baby shoes, never worn." He won the bet, naturally.

2) Frederic Brown composed the shortest sci-fi story: "The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door..." Pretty scary!

3) O. Henry won an american competition on the shortest short story, writing one that has all the necessary elements: drawstrings, climax and denouement: "The drived lit a cigarette and leaned over the gas tank to see how many of the remaining gasoline. The deceased was twenty-three years."

4) The Brisith also made the same contest. Its main condition was covering the following themes: the Queen, God, sex, mystery. The result was very entertaining: "Oh God, - exclaimed the queen - I'm pregnant. I wonder who is the father."

5) Some elderly Frenchwoman won another literary contest - on the shortest autobiography. This is how she described her life: "I used to have a smooth face and wrinkled skirt, and now - on the contrary."

1 May 2014

Book Review: Write Good or Die, edited by Scott Nicholson

Write Good or Die is a collection of tips on writing and publishing given by several contemporary best-selling authors, such as J. A. Konrath, Gayle Lunds, Alexandra Sokoloff, Jonathan Maberry, and many more. I have hitherto heard of none of them. Nevertheless, I find that these established authors give extremely helpful advice and very clear instructions on how to write and get published. And also share their valuable experiences and affirmative stories that are very much fun to read if you are a mere reader and inspire to keep going if you are an aspiring writer.

Here I collected some tips and clues on writing that I found to be most helpful:

1. Get disciplined.
This means that you have to make the time for writing even if you seemingly don't have any. As Kevin J. Anderson shares, 'I worked a full-time regular job while I wrote my first novels, scraping out an hour or three in the evening and weekends. That's how I've become a successful author.' Only discipline gets the job done.

2. Practice your craft.
Have you read 'Outliers' by Malcolm Gladwell? In this rather controversial book he stated something that we all kinda knew before - that for your genius to blossom in its full power we only need to - wait for it... - practice, practice, practice. 10 thousand hours minimum, he said. So start today because according to my calculations, two hours of practicing per day (that's the reasonable estimate which is still quite high for me) will make it approximately 13 years for you to shine. But after all, a profesisonal is an amateur who didn't quit. So be persistent!
Writing is a skill. The ability to use the right words to properly indicate what's in your head is something you have to practice. (c) Mur Lafferty
3. Take the pressure off. 
'It's okay to suck', assures Mur Lafferty. And I love this approach! I feel that sometimes there is this huge fear of being not merely 'not good enough' but to be 'embrarrassingly bad'. And it's hard to write anything under such a pressure. So accepting beforehand that I will be writing a lot of crap literally takes the weight of the world off my shoulders.
Let go of the illusion of perfection. What you are writing might suck. The closer you are to your first day writing, the more likely you are to suck. (c) Mur Lafferty
4. Love what you write and write what you love.
You must write what you are excited about, as the excitement is infectious. Your book will be successful if that's a book that you would want to read yourself. So write the novel you love.
Every writer should write what makes them angry, what makes them passionate, or what they love. From the passion comes true art. (c) Dean Wesley Smith
5. Get feedback.
Make your family, friends, friends of your friends, your blog's subscribers, strangers read your novel and give you an outside opinion on it. Once you got your feedback, then start polishing: editing, correcting, re-correcting, rewriting. But don't do this during the very creative process of writing as it may block your flow. Also, seek for criticism, not praise. And read what's currently selling.
Listen to advice, and throw out advice. (c) Heather Graham
6. Don't take rejection personally.
Just like you accepted the fact that it's okay to suck, accept the fact that people say 'no' more often than they say 'yes'. Don't give way to despair, though, and keep rememering J. K. Rowling, who faced 12 rejections before somebody agreed to publish her first book.
Sometimes I would whisper "yes" out loud to myself just to make sure the word still exister. (c) M. J. Rose 

There is tons of other practical advice, helpful tips on writing techniques, valuable insight opinions on how publishing business works. So I surely recommend the book to anyone who intends to get serious about their writing.
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